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J Immunol. 1996 Sep 1;157(5):2103-8.

IL-15 augments CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity against Toxoplasma gondii infection in mice.

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Department of Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


Cytokines of the Th1 profile are important mediators of protective host immunity against Toxoplasma gondii infection in mice. In this study we describe the effect of the recently identified cytokine, IL-15, on prevention of murine infection with T. gondii. Administration of exogenous rIL-15 with soluble Toxoplasma lysate Ag (TLA) provides complete protection against a lethal parasite challenge, whereas treatment with either rIL-15 or TLA alone is not protective. Following immunization with TLA/rIL-15, there is a significant proliferation of splenocytes expressing the CD8+ phenotype in response to TLA. A significant rise in the level of serum IFN gamma was observed in vaccinated mice. Adoptive transfer of CD8+ T cells, but not CD4+ T cells, from TLA/rIL-15-vaccinated mice protects naive mice from a lethal parasite challenge. These CD8+ T cells exhibit enhanced CTL activity against target macrophages infected with T. gondii. Mice that have been immunized are protected against lethal parasite challenge for at least 1 mo postvaccination. These observations demonstrate that TLA when administered with exogenous rIL-15 generates toxoplasmacidal Ag-specific CD8+ T cells. These T cells proliferate upon exposure to parasite Ag, exhibit long term memory CTL against infected target cells, and may be involved in host immune memory to this parasite.

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